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Stories of masculinity, gender equality, and culinary progress: On foodwork, cooking, and men in Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The general aim of this thesis is to use foodwork and cooking in Sweden as a way to better understand theoretical questions about men and masculinities. Paper I discusses how an increased public interest in elaborate cooking and gastronomy in Sweden, a country with a cultural idealization of gender equality, could explain why men in Sweden assume responsibilities for domestic cooking without feeling emasculated. Papers II, III and IV draw on interviews with 31 men from 22 to 88 years of age and with different levels of interest in food. Paper II shows how domestic foodwork and cooking are associated with ideas of Swedish progress in terms of gender equality and culinary skills. Paper III demonstrates further that domestic cooking is not only a responsibility which men assume, but also a way of being sociable with friends, partners and children. Thus, both papers II and III challenge the idea that men only cook at home if they enjoy it. The data rather indicate that domestic foodwork responsibilities are a cultural expectation of men in Sweden, ingrained in desirable masculine practices. Paper IV explores men’s responses to media representations of food. The interviewed men responded to these representations with indifference, pragmatism, irony, and at times even hostility. In general, the responses are based on gender and age-differentiated taste distinctions and notions of masculine and culinary excess. Paper V uses a mix of texts (81 online texts and two magazines) and observations from the food fairs GastroNord (2014 and 2016), Mitt kök-mässan (2014) and the chef competition Bocuse d’Or Europe (2014) complemented with pictures and videos. I argue that a Swedish culinary community that promotes Swedish culinary excellence is constructed by drawing on preestablished national (self-)images. This culinary community is constructed as open and tolerant, with ethical concerns for the environment and for nonhuman animals. Its culinary icons are represented by chefs in whites and the leading restaurants. In sum, this dissertation provides empirical and theoretical contributions to both food studies and gender studies that critically scrutinize men and masculinities. Food-issues are permeated by gender, both in people’s everyday life and in the gastronomic elite.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. , 106 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 132
Keyword [en]
foodwork, cooking, food studies, men and masculinities, gender equality, domestic work, culinary excellence, food, gastronomy, celebrity chefs, national identity, androcentrism, homosociality
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301494ISBN: 978-91-554-9701-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-301494DiVA: diva2:974090
Public defence
2016-11-11, A1: 107a, Uppsala Biomedical Centre (BMC), Husargatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-10-20 Created: 2016-08-23 Last updated: 2016-11-02
List of papers
1. Gendered and gendering practices of food and cooking: An inquiry into authorisation, legitimisation and androcentric dividends in three social fields
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gendered and gendering practices of food and cooking: An inquiry into authorisation, legitimisation and androcentric dividends in three social fields
2014 (English)In: Norma, ISSN 1890-2138, E-ISSN 1890-2146, Vol. 9, no 4, 269-285 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to discuss gendered and gendering practices of food and cooking. Focusing mainly on Sweden, we discuss how these practices are privileged or disfavoured through acts of authorisation and legitimisation. Through a perspective of critical studies on men and masculinities (CSMM) and with inspiration from Bourdieu's concept of social fields, we have inquired into three fields in which practices of food and cooking are produced, consumed and communicated: the field of conspicuousness, the field of welfare state institutions and the domestic field. We show the gendered and gendering characteristics of these fields in Sweden and argue that androcentric dividends privilege some fields and actors in these fields more than others. This article's main contribution is to expand on previous research on food and gender and further explain Swedish men's increased interest in and assumption of responsibility for food and cooking in the domestic field. First, there is the enhanced status of the field owing to greater incorporation of gastronomy. Second, food and cooking practices do not seem to be associated with emasculation in contemporary Western society, and Sweden's gender-egalitarian ideology may have a particularly strong legitimising impact on Swedish men's food and cooking practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2014
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-234668 (URN)10.1080/18902138.2014.967985 (DOI)
Available from: 2014-10-22 Created: 2014-10-22 Last updated: 2016-09-23
2. Narratives of progress: Cooking and gender equality among Swedish men
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Narratives of progress: Cooking and gender equality among Swedish men
2015 (English)In: Journal of Gender Studies, ISSN 0958-9236, E-ISSN 1465-3869Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Feminist food studies have repeatedly identified a dichotomy of ‘masculine’ self-oriented cooking as leisure and ‘feminine’ other and care-oriented foodwork (meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up after meals). However, recent research suggests that there is a great deal of variety and contradiction in men’s accounts of their cooking practices. For example, men may find cooking a tedious and stressful responsibility and foodwork a fatherly duty. This article draws on interviews with 31 Swedish men from 22 to 88 years of age, and explores stories about cooking and foodwork as part of their everyday lives and their life transitions and how these relate to broader notions of food and gender equality. The data illuminating the men’s stories can be synthesised into two narratives of progress: a narrative of progress in gender equality in Sweden, where men’s participation in household labour has become taken for granted, and a narrative of culinary progress among Swedish men in general and among some of the interviewed men themselves. We agree with previous scholars who have argued for a reconsideration of the simplistic picture of men’s cooking as only being for the self and for leisure. We further show how the men express foodwork as a self-evident responsibility, regardless of whether the men find it fun or not, and that a desirable masculinity is represented by a man whose cooking skills have progressed beyond the survival level and who is more gender equal than what are perceived to be less-progressive men from previous generations and foreign cultural backgrounds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2015
Keyword
Men, masculinities, foodwork, cooking, gender equality, progress narratives
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-263076 (URN)10.1080/09589236.2015.1090306 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-09-25 Created: 2015-09-25 Last updated: 2016-09-23Bibliographically approved
3. Masculinity and the sociality of cooking in men’s everyday lives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Masculinity and the sociality of cooking in men’s everyday lives
2016 (English)In: Sociological Review, ISSN 0038-0261, E-ISSN 1467-954XArticle in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article explores how 31 Swedish men (22–88 years old) talk about the sociality of domestic cooking in everyday life. We demonstrate how domestic cooking – for oneself, for others and with others – is part of the understanding of contemporary Swedish men and how the expressed sociality of cooking is intertwined with accomplishments of masculinity. The sociality of cooking is not only about homosocial leisure but also a way for men to maintain heterosocial relationships and assume domestic responsibility. We discuss a potential cultural transition in men's domestic meal sociality and suggest the need for studies of gendered divisions of domestic work and the sociology of food to analyse how cooking shares similar properties to those of commensality, and the implications of this regarding gender relations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Inc., 2016
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Gender Studies Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301493 (URN)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2016-08-23 Created: 2016-08-23 Last updated: 2016-09-23Bibliographically approved
4. The “just right” Swedish chef: Gender, age and taste distinctions in men’s responses to media representations of food
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The “just right” Swedish chef: Gender, age and taste distinctions in men’s responses to media representations of food
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Gender Studies
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-302785 (URN)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2016-09-09 Created: 2016-09-09 Last updated: 2016-09-23Bibliographically approved
5. An imagined culinary community: Stories of egalitarianism and masculinity in "Sweden – the new culinary nation"
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An imagined culinary community: Stories of egalitarianism and masculinity in "Sweden – the new culinary nation"
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Cultural Studies Gender Studies Sociology
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-302574 (URN)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2016-09-06 Created: 2016-09-06 Last updated: 2016-09-23Bibliographically approved

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